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98 Guidebook for Conducting Airport User Surveys is more coverage in the peak periods, with interviewers typically working between four and eight hours per shift. Scheduling interviewers to match the distribution of departing seats (or passengers) has both staffing and cost implications. Having interviewers work for varying times per day and starting their shifts at different times can be done, but it may be necessary to pay more for people to work short shifts on some days or the earliest and latest shifts. Field supervision also becomes signifi- cantly more complicated with interviewers starting their shifts at different times. These factors need to be considered carefully in survey planning. 5.4 Questionnaire Wording and Length The general principles for questionnaire design and length are discussed in Section 4.3, and a sample passenger questionnaire is provided in Appendix F. The sequence and wording of sur- vey questions can significantly affect the reliability of the responses that are obtained, if respon- dents misunderstand a question being asked. Examples of problems that can arise include the following: · Terminology for ground access modes, particularly modes such as scheduled airport bus, lim- ousine, hotel courtesy shuttle, and charter van. In some areas, the term "limousine" is used for scheduled airport bus service and may appear in the name of the service, while a vehicle hired for the exclusive use of an air party may be referred to as a "hire car." However, some respondents may confuse hire car with rental car. The term "shuttle" is often used to refer to shared-ride van service (and again sometimes appears in the name of the operator). An air party taking a shared-ride van service from a hotel to the airport may consider this a "hotel courtesy shuttle," although that is not what is intended by the term. The distinction between shared-ride van service and charter van may be a matter of whether the operator is licensed to carry multiple travel parties in a single trip, which may not be known to the travelers, partic- ularly if the trip to the airport was arranged by someone else. · Trip purpose. Questions should generally provide more options than just business and per- sonal. The term "leisure" would usually be considered to exclude a wide range of personal trip purposes (e.g., attending a funeral) and should be avoided. Response options should allow for trips that combine business and personal purposes, such as combining a business meeting or conference with vacation time or leisure activities, or visiting family or friends. Asking the "main purpose" or "primary purpose" of the trip may be meaningless in cases where the trip only occurred because it allowed multiple purposes to be satisfied. The key issue to consider is why information on trip purpose is needed. If trip purpose is sought to distinguish between trips where the respondent is paying the travel costs and those where the costs are paid by their employer or other organization, it may be better to ask this ques- tion directly rather than assume that respondents reporting business trips are not paying for their travel costs themselves. · Trip origin. Typically the response sought is the origin of the ground access trip to the airport where the survey is being performed. However, if not carefully worded this question could be misunderstood by visitors as the origin of their entire trip from their home region. The expres- sion "your trip to the airport today" is ambiguous to travelers making a one-day return trip. In some cases, even the term "this airport" can be ambiguous. In a recent survey, respondents were asked to state the final destination airport of the air trip that they were about to begin. This was followed by a question that asked: "Is this airport the home end of your trip?" The second question was intended to mean the airport where the survey was being performed, but could easily have been misunderstood to mean the destination airport referred to in the pre- vious question.
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Air Passenger Surveys 99 · Air party. This term may not be understood by many respondents and needs to be expressed in other words (e.g., traveling together on the same flight). For ground transportation plan- ning purposes it may be desirable to distinguish between the air travel party and the ground access travel party, because different members of the air travel party may have come to the air- port separately. 5.4.1 Trip Origin Information Sponsors of air passenger surveys often wish to obtain information on the ground access trip origin location (or ground egress trip destination location). This information is typically needed at a fairly detailed level to permit the trip origins or destinations to be coded to the sys- tem of transportation analysis zones used by the local regional transportation planning agency. This coding will allow information on highway and transit travel times and transit fares to be readily obtained from the data files maintained for regional transportation modeling. It will also allow the results of the air passenger survey to be integrated with other transportation planning studies. It is not uncommon for these zones to be significantly smaller than zip codes or postal codes. The usual approach is to request the street address and city of the trip origin. For obvious reasons, many survey respondents are reluctant to provide the actual address, although they may be willing to provide the block number or a nearby street intersection, which is sufficiently accurate. However, visitors to the area may have started or ended their access or egress trip at a hotel, business, or other discrete location (such as cruise ship terminal or convention center) for which they do not know the address. In such situations respondents should be asked to provide the name of the hotel or other location, and these will have to be coded later so that the correct address can be assigned to the survey response. In such cases, the trip origin or destination city should also be obtained, to resolve situations in which there are several locations with similar or identical names. Hotel names can be particularly problematical. In a large city there may be sev- eral hotels in the same chain, and while they will typically each have a unique name, respondents may not use the formal names but simply refer to them by the name of the chain. A related prob- lem can arise when ownership of a hotel has recently changed. Respondents who previously stayed in the hotel before the change may refer to it by its former name. Because respondents-- visitors in particular--may give partial or even incorrect names for hotels and other locations, it will be helpful to also obtain a nearby street intersection or the name of the street if this is known. While this may be redundant information in many cases, it can be invaluable in resolv- ing ambiguous or unclear responses. In the case of printed questionnaires it will be necessary to obtain the redundant information from all respondents, because it would be too complicated to explain which respondents should provide it and which not. However, in the case of surveys using EDCDs, it may be possible to program the devices so that the street name or intersection question is skipped for responses that give location names that are clearly unambiguous. The issue of the ground egress trip destination is often ignored and it is implicitly assumed that the ground access trip and egress trip are symmetrical. However, this is not always the case, and this may deserve explicit attention in the survey. In particular, situations where they are not the same may be an important factor in access and egress mode choice. Common examples include visitors who travel from the airport to a hotel on arrival in the area but return to the airport from another location, such as a business they are visiting, or residents who travel to the airport from their workplace but return home from their return flight. Collecting trip egress information requires some thought in questionnaire wording because the egress trip has not yet occurred for residents who are surveyed on the outbound leg of their travel.
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100 Guidebook for Conducting Airport User Surveys 5.4.2 Public Transportation Modes Although public transportation Another aspect that requires careful attention is the treatment of public is often referred to as public transportation modes in questions about access and egress trips. The use of transit, at many airports public public transportation is often an important policy issue in situations where transportation includes a wide airports are trying to reduce or mitigate ground transportation vehicle trips. range of services, many operated by It can also be a key consideration if one objective of the survey is to support the private sector, in addition to the the development of models of airport ground access mode choice. services provided by local transit agencies. Two reports produced There are two aspects to the use of public transportation modes that may need to be considered in the design of air passenger survey questions. The first under the Transit Cooperative is the appropriate definition of the different public transportation services Research Program provide a good available at the airport. Because different services will have different service overview of the issues involved in areas and may have significantly different levels of service--such as frequen- public transportation access to cies, fares, and hours of service--it will often be necessary to distinguish airports (Leigh Fisher Associates between the services and not simply classify all such trips into broad categories. et al., 2000; Leigh Fisher Associates Self-completed surveys should avoid the use of terms such as "public transit," et al., 2002). Furthermore, transit which can mean different things to different respondents. services may be provided by several different agencies, such as in cases The design of the questionnaire (and the EDCD program where EDCDs are where rail transit service is provided used) should provide the ability to distinguish between different modes and by a different agency from local bus services as necessary. In the case of surveys at groundside access points (discussed services, or where transit agencies in Section 5.9), it may be necessary to develop unique questions or forms for dif- that serve different areas each serve ferent modes. Because of the potential for misreporting the actual public trans- the airport. portation service used, it is advisable to specify (or ask for) the name of the agency or firm operating the service and, in the case of local bus services, the number of the route. For other fixed-route services, it may be useful to request the name of the station or stop where the passenger boarded the service. While this level of detail may not be necessary for analyzing the results of the survey, it can be invaluable during data cleaning to correct misreported or misclassified services. In the case of fixed-route services, it may also be helpful to ask how the respondents got to the station or stop where they boarded the service, because this can have a significant impact on the time and cost involved in using the service (e.g., a taxi trip to a transit station could easily cost more than the transit trip itself). While obtaining such information will increase the number of questions to be asked, these generally affect only a small proportion of respondents and so do not have a significant impact on the cost of the survey or the time required to complete it. The second aspect that the survey planning team may wish to explore is the familiarity of the survey respondents with the public transportation system serving the airport. Do air passengers use public transit on a routine basis for other types of trips? This other usage will affect the famil- iarity of air passengers with the local transit system and may affect whether public transit is even considered as an option for getting to the airport. In the case of other forms of public transporta- tion, such as privately operated scheduled airport bus services, air passengers (particularly visi- tors to the area) may not know anything about the services. 5.4.3 Parking Issues Private vehicles are the most widely used means of traveling to or from most airports, and parking revenues compose a major component of airport revenues. Therefore, information on the use of airport parking by air passengers--and those dropping them off or picking them up-- is an important aspect of most air passenger surveys. However, survey questions addressing the use of airport or off-airport parking should be carefully worded to prevent misunderstanding by respondents. Careful wording is particularly necessary with self-completed surveys.